The Aussie brains trust in the big England-Pakistan showdown

By, Melbourne
Nov 12, 2022 09:46 PM IST

Matthew Mott, David Saker, Mike Hussey, Matthew Hayden and Shaun Tait form the brains trust that guided England and Pakistan.

Matthew Mott is one win away from coaching a T20 World Cup-winning team in both men and women if England clinch the final on Sunday. If Pakistan win, two all-time great opening partners and best friends—Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden—would have achieved victory, as coach and mentor respectively, for two different teams in successive editions. Mike Hussey and David Saker are working behind the scenes with England while former Australia fast bowler Shaun Tait has been one of the reasons Pakistan have the best economy rate since the Super 12s. Take a look at the T20 World Cup finalists and you will see Australians holding key positions in both teams.

Matthew Hayden (L) during a training session(Twitter/TheRealPCB)
Matthew Hayden (L) during a training session(Twitter/TheRealPCB)

The logic is simple: To win in Australia, take help from Australian experts. Unlike India, many teams have long resorted to event-specific consultancy. Pakistan got Tait as bowling coach in February and Hayden as mentor in September. England think differently. They have already separated white-ball and red-ball duties, making Mott and Brendon McCullum the respective head coaches. It’s an approach England skipper Jos Buttler feels could become popular going forward.

“It’s certainly something I think other teams may look at,” Buttler said at the MCG on Saturday. “Even when sort of one person was in charge, you were sort of seeing them having to miss certain series or one of the assistants taking over for a little bit. Certainly, in terms of the stability of the groups, it’s a real plus that we know exactly who our coaching staff is, who our head coach is, and they have full ownership over that team.”

It is with this clarity that Mott, a former opener for New South Wales and Victoria, was given the job after he guided the Australia women’s team to the ODI World Cup against England in New Zealand this year. It was just the win needed to round off Mott’s growing white-ball credentials, following the Women’s T20 World Cup final win against India at the MCG in 2020. Over seven years in charge, Mott slowly changed the face of Australian women’s cricket, transforming them into a sharper, more athletic unit. After that high, England was just the right challenge for him.

“Over your coaching journey you learn off a lot of other people and reflect a lot,” Mott told SEN Radio here. “Being at the right place at the right time is a pretty good strategy. I've worked with some outstanding players over my time with the Australian women's team, and this is an incredible generation of white-ball cricketers here with England.”

The first thing Mott did after getting the job in June was to enlist the services of Saker and Hussey on short-term deals. Saker, the Melbourne Renegades head coach in the Big Bash League, had already worked as England fast bowling coach between 2010 and 2015. Hussey, the batting coach, brought with him invaluable experience, both as an Australian great and a BBL winner with Sydney Thunder.

For Pakistan too, the BBL factor was prominent in the appointment of Tait given that he had played for Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes before retirement in 2016. With Hayden, they infused the team with the steel and resilience needed to counter hostile conditions and a forgettable start.

The team talk he delivered right after the Bangladesh win was proof of that. “It’s just a miracle that we are seeing unfold here but even before we got to this day, I sensed that we have this trust in the process,” Hayden said in a team video that went viral. “We have got the energy there, we’ve got the commitment and belief in each other, then the magic just unfolds. And today was a magic day. It hasn’t been smooth sailing. If it wasn’t for the Dutch, we would not be here. But we are here and it is powerful because no one wants to see us.”

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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